Sunday, 14 April 2019

Doria Ragland: How the Duchess of Sussex's mother became her rock and best friend

Doria Ragland: How the Duchess of Sussex's mother became her rock and best friendThe Duchess of Sussex's due date has been a closely-guarded secret, and not even Prince Harry and his wife know whether to prepare for a prince or a princess. But the one thing that is in no doubt is that, when it comes to welcoming Baby Sussex, the Duchess's mother, Doria Ragland, will be with her every step of the way. Doria Ragland, the royal baby's 62-year-old grandmother, is said to be traveling from LA to London near the end of the month to attend the birth and help the couple settle in with their first born.  Here we take a look at Ms Ragland and the close bond she shares with her daughter as she supports her through the highs and lows of life as a new royal. Doria's first grandchild Meghan is determined not to have a nanny and some reports last month even suggested that Doria, 62, had taken classes at Los Angeles-based Cradle Company, in preparation for helping with the newborn. The Duke and Duchess have been busy for the past few months renovating Frogmore Cottage, in the grounds of Windsor Castle, where they now live and are expected raise their child long-term. The nursery will reportedly be gender-neutral, and decorated in shades of grey and white. The renovations also include a guest room, where Ms Ragland can stay. Meghan held a high profile baby shower in New York in February, and is said to be planning on holding a second one in the UK, attended by her mother. Previous reports have suggested Doria may split her time between the US and UK to help raise the royal baby. Royal baby 2019 | Meghan and Harry are expecting their first child How did Meghan's parents meet? Ms Ragland was born in Ohio to an antique dealer father and a mother who was a nurse. The family soon moved to Los Angeles, where she attended the Fairfax High School. She is remembered as bright and friendly – the teenager with the Afro hair who loved listening to Marvin Gaye and dining out at a local Mexican taco joint with friends. After school she worked as a make-up artist, which is how she met her husband, Thomas, who was then a lighting director in Hollywood. “I like to think he was drawn to her sweet eyes and her Afro, plus their shared love of antiques,” Meghan has said of what attracted her father to her mother. The pair married in 1979 and Meghan was born two years later. The family moved into a house in The Valley, LA, to a neighbourhood that Meghan has described as “leafy and affordable”. But it was far from diverse - to the point that Meghan once remarked: “And there was my mom, caramel in complexion with her light-skinned baby in tow, being asked where my mother was since they assumed she was the nanny.” Meghan Markle's family tree When did Meghan's parents divorce? The marriage collapsed when their daughter was just six and after the divorce, Ms Ragland took a job as an air stewardess, meaning their daughter was frequently cared for by her father. To instill a sense of pride in her mixed heritage, he bought two sets of dolls, one with a white family and one with a black family. He took the black mother doll, the white father doll and a child doll in each colour, which he then wrapped and put under the Christmas tree. While Meghan was educated at private schools – beginning at Hollywood Little Red Schoolhouse before attending Immaculate Heart High School, an all-girl Catholic private school in Los Angeles – Ms Ragland was always careful to nurture a sense gratitude in her only child. The mother took her daughter to visit disadvantaged children in Rwanda, see the slums of Jamaica and experience poverty in Mexico when she was just 10. “My mother raised me to be a global citizen, with eyes open to sometimes harsh realities,” Meghan wrote on her now closed blog The Tig. Doria Ragland is escorted down the steps of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, after the wedding of her daughter Meghan to Prince Harry Credit: Reuters Doria's career Ms Ragland later returned to university to obtain a Master’s degree in social work, following on from her BA in psychology; she was described by her daughter as specialising in elder care. Her most recent job was at Didi Hirsch mental health services in the Los Angeles neighbourhood of Culver City – an organisation whose mission statement reads: “Didi Hirsch transforms lives by providing quality mental health and substance abuse services in communities where stigma or poverty limit access.” “She works specifically with the geriatric community,” Meghan has said, describing her mother as “a free-spirited clinical therapist,” who also teaches yoga. Meghan Markle and her mother, Doria Ragland, watch the closing ceremony for the Invictus Games in Toronto Credit:  REUTERS She is now believed to be seeing private patients as a freelance therapist, from the Crenshaw bungalow which she inherited from her father in 2011. She is also continuing to teach yoga. Meet the Markles | Read more Doria and Meghan's close bond As the gulf widens between the lifestyles they lead and the circles they mix in, Ms Ragland and her daughter remain extremely close - to prove the point she once drove a car with the number plate MEGNME. Her mother filed for bankruptcy in 2002, but has never spoken publicly about her daughter. And while many speculated a seven hour meeting with Oprah, before the Royal wedding, was to seal a deal to open up about the racist abuse her daughter suffered, those who know the family say she would never do anything without Meghan’s blessing or that would jeopardise the relationship that they have. Meghan Markle: best looks In a 2014 Tig post called Love Letter, Meghan captured her mother’s personality by describing her in this way: “Dreadlocks. Nose ring. Yoga instructor. Social worker. Free spirit. Lover of potato chips & lemon tarts. “If the DJ cues Al Green’s soul classic ‘Call Me,’ just forget it, she will swivel her hips into the sweetest little dance you’ve ever seen, swaying her head and snapping her fingers to the beat like she’s been dancing since the womb. And you will smile. You won’t be able to help it. You will look at her and you will feel joy.” It was just one of many times she wrote about their bond. “We can just have so much fun together, and yet, I’ll still find so much solace in her support,” Meghan said of her mother in 2017. “That duality coexists the same way it would in a best friend.” This article was first published in May 2018 and has been updated.

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